Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canning for dummies

So, my in-laws gave us 3 tomato plants in the spring. We've never had a home or yard, let alone a garden. We gave it our best shot, though, clearing a small plot in our "field," as the girl calls it. I swore for weeks the plants were dying, all the while my pops-in-law reassured me the leaves were just sunburnt and would flourish soon enough. And boy did they flourish!

The problem with tomatoes, or blessing, is that as the summer progresses, our three little plants ripped out the stakes that held them so surely in June and produced 2.5 times more tomatoes every time I picked them. My most recent haul was photo-worthy: 144 tomatoes! What on earth do you do with 144 tomatoes all at once?

I've never canned before and I'm too lazy to start now. So, thanks to Google, I found my answer here. Instructions for freezing fresh tomatoes. Hallelujah! I KNEW there had to be a lazier better way! Since tomatoes ripen in batches, I've done this twice and have made freezer salsa several times (which I made up on my own, though I'm sure I didn't invent it...or did I...).

So, following the instructions I found on the internet, here's what I did to freeze fresh tomatoes:

Step 1
Step 1: Blanche tomatoes in boiling water for 10-15 seconds. Yes, I counted out loud because I VERY quickly forget what I'm doing. Immediately remove to ice-cold water. Mine was more like tap cold.

Step 2
Step 2: Cut out that spot where the stem attaches to the top of the tomato. What is that thing called anyway? The tomato button? Then, slip those skins right off - so fun! The skins need to be removed because they toughen when frozen. Cut tomato in half and then plunge those thumbs of yours in there to gush out the majority of seeds and juicy stuff. This was so therapeutic. Loved it. It would be fun for kids. Wish mine wasn't anti-get-hands-dirty.

Step 3
Step 3: Bag. The internet instructor used quart freezer Ziplock bags. I used regular sandwich bags because I was too lazy to run to the store for the flexibility of smaller servings. Since they were not freezer bags, I put 5-6 of the filled sandwich bags in a gallon freezer bag to protect from freezer burn, which tastes gross, ps. The internet instructions suggested sucking the air out of the bagged tomatoes with a straw (if you don't have one of those airtight sealer gadgets). However, after burning my lungs with tomato acid and nearly blacking out, I scratched that gem of a suggestion the second time around. Pressing out the air as best you can from the bags is sufficient, for heaven's sake.

As for freezer salsa, just make your fav fresh salsa and freeze it, yo. Doesn't get any simpler than that. I freeze mine in plastic containers and empty glass jars, which, if they originally housed pickles, you'll want to run through the dishwasher so the stank doesn't infect your delish salsa. Happy freezing and good luck!

**Note: I have a deep freezer, thanks to a generous family in our neighborhood who, when replacing theirs with a new freezer, kindly passed the old one along to us. The shelf life of frozen food tends to be a bit longer in a deep freezer. Food peeps say frozen food should be consumed within 4 months of freezing. But, listen to me, honey, when I say I have freezer jam from like 3 summers ago that I'm still enjoying and it was in a regular freezer for most of that time! That's how real women do. What doesn't kill you with botulism makes you stronger, right?


  1. HOLY SMOKE girl! I planted 12 tomato plants and didn't get that kind of haul if I include all of the tomatoes I harvested all year so far. I think I need some gardening tips from the master. LOL good job!

  2. @KatherineHaha! Gardening master - I think not! Tomatoes were the perfect plant for us because they apparently thrive on neglect. I think the key is to not water them - irony at it's best!

  3. If you prefer you can bottle them (in jars) as preserves!! fill & seal in heated (sterilised) clean jars while the sago/sauce/bologna is still hot and it will keep at least 6months in a pantry (reuse jars, save on freezer electricity use) just put lids on while hot (be careful)and then leave til cool. clean the outside of jars (tomato, jam, whatever you are preserving) then check the 'pop'seals on the jar lids - the ones that have popped back down & sealed a vacuum go in the pantry, the ones where the seal has popped up in the centre like when you first open the jar go in the fridge to use within a month.
    Get a group together and do this as a RS for your foodstores : )